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Evolution and the Emergent SelfThe Rise of Complexity and Behavioral Versatility in Nature$
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Raymond Neubauer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231150705

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231150705.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

The Immune System

The Immune System

A Parable

(p.5) 1 The Immune System
Evolution and the Emergent Self

Raymond L. Neubauer

, Xuan Yue
Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the way the immune system fights disease by focusing on two different kinds of selection described in ecology: r-selection and K-selection. Life builds an inner world that must stay adjusted to changes in the outer world. It tracks changes in the environment with two fundamental strategies that can be seen as end points of a continuum. It either builds many organisms of low information content that can develop quickly, in order to find the variants best suited to fit new conditions, or it builds versatility into single individuals. The first strategy expends many individuals to find the few best suited to meet new conditions, whereas the latter invests resources in the long development of fewer individuals that have broad behavioral repertoires. This chapter first provides an overview of how the immune system works and proceeds by discussing clonal selection. It concludes by describing the battle between microbes and the immune system when it comes to disease.

Keywords:   immune system, disease, ecology, r-selection, K-selection, information content, clonal selection, microbes

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